Giannis Antetokounmpo helps Bucks outlast Bulls 112-99
CHICAGO — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 29 points and had 17 rebounds, Eric Bledsoe added 19 points and the Milwaukee Bucks outlasted the pesky Chicago Bulls 112-99 on Monday night.
Malcolm Brogdon added 17 points and Khris Middleton had 16 to help league-leading Milwaukee win for the seventh time in eight games and improve to 13-2 over its last 15.
Antetokounmpo recorded his 39th double-double of the season in his return after sitting out his fourth game of the season Saturday, against Orlando in Milwaukee, due to right knee soreness The Bucks had their lowest scoring output of the season in that one as their six-game winning streak ended in a 103-83 loss to the Magic.
Zach LaVine finished with 27 points after scoring 17 in the first half, and Lauri Markkanen had 20 points and 17 rebounds to help Chicago stay close until the end. Otto Porter Jr., acquired last week from Washington, added 18 points in his third game with the Bulls, but Chicago lost for the fourth time in five and dropped to 3-18 in its last 21.
Milwaukee built a 100-86 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but Chicago’s 11-0 run late in the quarter cut the Bucks’ advantage to three points with under 3 minutes left. The Bucks finished the game with a 12-2 spurt to seal the win.
The Bucks’ ball control wasn’t at its best as they committed 17 turnovers.
Milwaukee led 22-21 after one quarter and a sluggish start for both teams, with Chicago making nine of 28 shots from the floor and the Bucks hitting just eight of 24. Antetokounmpo put the Bucks in front in the final seconds on a free throw to complete a 3-point play.
Milwaukee tried to pick up the pace in the second quarter, but couldn’t sustain it to pull away. The Bucks opened an eight-point lead midway through the quarter, but LaVine and Markkanen came on and helped Chicago trim Milwaukee’s lead to 50-49 at the half.
Milwaukee opened the second half with a 15-4 run for a 12-point lead, but Chicago replied with an 11-2 spurt to stay close. The Bucks led 79-71 after the three quarters.
Bucks: Asked about Antetokounmpo’s bothersome knee before the game, coach Mike Budenholzer said, “Hopefully we’ll be able to keep him in a good place going forward.” The “Greek Freak” had 29 points in a win at Dallas on Friday before sitting out Saturday’s game. … F Nikola Mirotic, acquired from New Orleans in a three-team trade on last Thursday, sat out a second game with the Bucks as he recovers from a right calf strain. “We’re just taking Niko kind of day-by-day,” Budenholzer said. “We’ve got one more game (before the All-Star break) on Wednesday and we’ll see if he’s ready to go. If he’s not, the silver lining is we have the All-Star break and well just continue to work with him and get him into a good place.” … G George Hill was kneed in the groin by Porter Jr. in the second quarter and crumpled in pain, but returned.
Bulls: Chicago recalled G Rawle Alkins from the Windy City Bulls and sent Brandon Sampson back to the G League team. Alkins didn’t play. … Kris Dunn fell hard after missing a driving layup late in the third. He stayed in the game briefly, then left for the locker room.
Bucks: At Indiana on Wednesday, then have eight days off over the All-Star break before hosting Boston on Feb. 21.
Bulls: Host Memphis on Wednesday, then resume action on Feb. 22 at Orlando.